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The National Journal has this quick summary of where the fight for marriage equality stands across the country, along with an interactive map that highlights how the push to expand rights is predominating the landscape.

In a sign of changing times, the fight over marriage rights is now overwhelmingly being waged by activists who favor same-sex marriage, rather than those working to restrict marriage to heterosexual couples. A decade after 11 states passed constitutional bans on same-sex marriage thanks to a coordinated effort by supporters of President Bush to boost his numbers, only two states—Indiana and Wyoming—are currently pursuing limitations to the marriage rights of same-sex couples. Meanwhile, efforts are underway in 24 states to expand them.

In North Carolina, that push is playing out in federal court in Greensboro in Fisher-Borne v. Smith, the case in which several families who originally filed a complaint concerning second parent adoption have  added a challenge to the state’s voter-approved constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

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Continuing a trend in federal district courts across the country, U.S. District Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen ruled yesterday that Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional. In a well-written and thoughtful opinion that recognizes choice as an American value and ends with a quote from Abraham Lincoln, Wright Allen began:

A spirited and controversial debate is underway regarding who may enjoy the right to marry in the United States of America. America has pursued a journey to make and keep our citizens free. This journey has never been easy, and at times has been painful and poignant. The ultimate exercise of our freedom is choice. Our Constitution declares that “all men” are created equal. Surely this means all of us. While ever-vigilant for the wisdom that can come from the voices of our voting public, our courts have never long tolerated the perpetuation of laws rooted in unlawful prejudice. One of the judiciary’s noblest endeavors is to scrutinize laws that emerge from such roots.

Before this Court are challenges to Virginia’s legislated prohibition on same-sex marriage. Plaintiffs assert that the restriction on their freedom to choose to marry the person they love infringes on the rights to due process and equal protection guaranteed to them under the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. These challenges are well-taken.

Courts elsewhere have ruled likewise.  In Utah, a two-judge panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals refused to stay a district court’s order striking down that state’s ban on same-sex marriage. And in Ohio, a federal judge ruled that states are constitutionally obliged to accept the marriages of same-sex couples performed legally in other states.

The same question is before a federal judge in Greensboro regarding the constitutionality of North Carolina’s same-sex marriage ban.  In Fisher-Borne v. Smith, several families who originally filed a complaint concerning second parent adoption have since amended their complaint to add a challenge to the state’s voter-approved Amendment One, which defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

Read the full Virginia decision here.

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As detailed in this morning’s Wall Street Journal, state courts have begun embracing the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in U.S. v. Windsor, striking down part of a federal law that defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman, and even building on that ruling in challenges over state laws concerning same-sex marriage and other issues affecting gays and lesbians.

“It’s a pattern that’s emerging—and it’s striking,” said David Cruz, a law professor at the University of Southern California and an expert on civil-rights law. Rather than finding ways around Windsor, he said, “judges are embracing its principles.

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The effect of Windsor could grow significantly in months to come, say legal experts. More than a dozen challenges to same-sex-marriage laws are pending, nine of which were filed post-Windsor, according to Jon Davidson, the legal director at Lambda Legal, which advocates on behalf of same-sex couples seeking the right to marry.

That includes a challenge in North Carolina which began as a lawsuit concerning the state’s adoption laws as applied to gay couples but has since expanded, with the consent of Attorney General Roy Cooper, to include a challenge to the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.

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In a statement released this morning,  the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the ACLU of North Carolina Legal Foundation (ACLU-NCLF) announced that they would challenge the state’s ban on same sex marriage by amending a federal lawsuit pending here concerning a ban on second parent adoptions.

The move comes on the same day as similar challenges were announced in Pennsylvania and Virginia and just weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court decision in  United States v. Windsor, in which the court found that the federal Defense of Marriage Act defining marriage as between one man and one woman was unconstitutional.

As stated in the announcement :

The ACLU is asking North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper to agree to allow an additional claim challenging the state’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples to be added to Fisher-Borne v. Smith, a lawsuit filed last year in Greensboro in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina that challenges the state’s ban on second parent adoption, a process by which one partner in an unmarried gay or straight couple adopts the other partner’s biological or adoptive child. If the Attorney General’s office does not agree to the addition of the new claim, the ACLU will petition the court to allow the claim to be added.

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(This story was written by our friend Greg Flynn and initially posted at Blue NC)

International Christian relief and evangelism charity organization Samaritan’s Purse run by Franklin Graham contributed $150,200 towards newspaper and TV advertising in support of the NC Marriage Amendment, according to an Independent Expenditure report filed with the NC State Board of Elections.

A total of $272,593.70 was reported spent by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association on full page ads in NC newspapers featuring the image of Billy Graham and words attributed to him and, on TV ads with similar content all with the legend “Paid for by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association”. $190,200 was reported as contributions from other persons or entities leaving $82,393.70 as the assumed direct contribution of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Of the $190,200 contributed by others $150,200 came from Samaritan’s Purse based in Boone, NC. $20,000 came from Mark DeMoss of Duluth, GA, and another $20,000 came from Dick Furman of Boone, NC. Mark DeMoss is an evangelical who runs a Christian PR agency and serves as an advisor to Mitt Romney. Dick Furman is a doctor who founded World Medical Mission which is part of the Samaritan’s Purse organization, on whose board he sits.

In soliciting donations on its website Samaritan’s Purse states: Read More